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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

REIF, n. Also reife, rief, reef; raif; ¶rieft. Pl. reaves. [rif]

1. Plunder, booty, spoil from robbery. Also fig.Sc. c.1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 205:
When Hab, as pawky as a Theif, Staw sleelie to his loving Reif.
Abd. 1829 Scott Tales Grandfather (2nd Ser.) xliii.:
Hence a rhyme, nor yet forgotten in Aberdeenshire. “If you with Lord Lewis go, You'll get reif and prey enough”.
Abd. 1832 A. Beattie Poems 117:
Determin'd to chastise a thief, And ablins might bring back the rief.

2. (Armed) robbery, the act of plundering, spoliation (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 74). Attrib. in a.1795 quot. = thieving, plundering.Sc. a.1750 Jacobite Relics (Hogg 1819) 101:
Donald has foughten wi' rief and roguery.
Ayr. a.1795 Burns Louis, what reck I. ii.:
Kings and nations — swith awa! Reif randies, I disoun ye.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy I. 16:
He lives by reif and felonie!
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 133:
Takes ways and means to catch the thief, Lest he attempts a second rief.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 117:
Syne there fell out sic a time o' spulzie an' rieft, burnan' houses an' castles.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 149:
He wiled oor little hands to reif.
Rxb. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 50:
Wi' herry and spulzie, wi' raif and wi' stouth.

Comb. ¶reifdandie, a term of abuse for a thief, a mistake for rief randie borrowed from Burns in 1795 quot. above.wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 10:
Some ca'd him a reiver, a rogue, a rief-dandie.

3. A thief, robber.Peb. 1817 R. Brown Carlop Green 171:
Tae shaw his gen'us, and gar rieves Think he's for them prepared.

[O.Sc. reif, booty, 1375, ref, spoliation, 1386, O.E. rēaf, plunder. Cf. Reive.]

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"Reif n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Jun 2023 <>



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